One of the most frequently asked questions among friends, either during graduation time, or after they start working in US, or if they are expecting a baby is “What is the process to apply for visitor or tourist visa(B2 visa) to parents to come to USA ? What documents do I need ? How do I start ?” . The below article covers the step by step process to apply for B2 visitor visa for parents or family members, including sample documents, templates.
Basic Requirements – Passports, Funds for US Trip
The two most important things you need to plan ahead before you even apply for visa are passports for parents and funds required for their travel.
- Parents Passports: The first step is to apply for passport for your parents, if they do not have one. Depending on the country, the time to get passport can vary, so factor in that time in your entire US visa application process for their B2 visa. For example, if you are from India, in the past it used to take 3 to 6 months, now with outsourcing to TCS, you can get passport in little under 15 days. Also, there are new schemes of Tatkaal, if it is emergency and you can get you passport as soon as 7 days, but you have to pay extra fee. Check out the passport application website for details. You may read our article on applying for Passport Renewal in India, it can give some idea.
- Bank Savings for Sponsorship: You need enough funds for your parents trip. Make sure you save some good amount totalling up to $10,000 dollars or more to cover their expenses. It is advised to start saving 3 months before and accumulate steadily rather than just borrowing money and putting in bank. There is no hard fast rule. Just an advice.
Step by Step Process for Parents US Visitor Visa (B2)
Below are the various steps that you can follow to apply for visitor visa for parents. Some of them can be done in parallel, but below is a general step by step guide.
Employment Letter from your Company or Graduation Letter
When you invite your parents or family, one of the things US Consular officer would look at are your current Visa status and supporting documentation for the same. You may need to get different set of documentation based on your status as an employee working in US or student studying in US. Below are the details
Working in US on a Visa (H1B, L1, OPT)
If you are working on a work visa, you need to get an employment letter from your current company, verifying that you are working in US on H1B, L1 or other visa, including OPT or STEM OPT. This is to make sure you are in good standing in US and are getting paid to support the travel of your parents.
Depending on the company, your company may ask you for details of your parents or their passport copies and directly address the employment verification letter to the consulate. There is no rule that you need to have certain format. Check Sample templates section at the end, if you want a sample. All they care is, if you are employed and in good standing.
The employment verification Letter should have information like when you joined them and what role are you in and how much salary you make. Some employers are quick and some are slow in doing this. Plan well and make sure you have it with you.
F1 Student – Graduation Invitation
If you are an F1 international Student inviting your parents for Graduation, you need to send your current status details like F1 Visa copy, I-94, I-20 and Graduation invitation letter to your parents.
Complete DS-160, Book US Visa Appointment
Before you book US Visa stamping appointment for your parents, you need to fill in DS-160 form. Make sure you have scan copies of their passport before you start the process to avoid issues. Also, your employer may need them.
Complete DS-160 Form Online for Parents
Unless your parents are well educated and have all facilities like computer with internet access, etc. they may not be able to do DS-160 on their own. It would be better, if you fill it out for them and then declare the same at the end. It saves a lot of pain for your parents to fill it out without any mistakes.
- Separate DS-160 Forms : You will need to create separate DS-160 applications profiles for every individual applying for visa. If you are inviting both your mother and father, then you need to create two DS-160 Profiles online for your parents.
- Creating Family Member DS-160 from Thank you page : When you are filling out the first DS-160 form for first family member, at the end when you select ‘Email Confirmation’ on the confirmation page, you will go to “Thank you” page and on that page you will have an option to create a family or group application, you can choose this option so that some of the information from your first application will be copied over and imported. Of course, you can change those details as needed.
- Required info to Fill DS-160 form : You will need a lot of information like education details, work history, identification info etc. We have complied the entire list of required items for DS-160 and tips to fill the same. Read How to fill out DS-160 Form, Documents Needed to get full idea.
- Filling up the DS-160, Declaration : If you are filling forms on behalf of your parents, at the end in DS-160 form, there is a section on ‘Sign and Submit page‘, there you should fill out your details as third party and then inform your parents regarding the endorsement of the application by them and help them click on sign and submit button. You may check more info and discussion on sign and submit option.
- Fill DS-160 online at Official State.gov website : You should go to Official US Govt State.gov website for DS-160 form Creation. Here is the link : US Govt ceac.state.gov Website
- If any questions, you can visit any of the below links to fill the DS-160 form.
Once you complete the DS-160 form, next step is to pay the fee and book visa interview appointment.
Booking US Visa Interview Appointment, Native Language
You need to book visa appointment at US embassy/ consulate for getting B2 Visa stamping to travel to US. It involves, paying fees, selecting location and interview language. Let’s look in detail.
- US Consulate Location for Interview : Depending on your home country, there may be one or more locations in your country. You need to choose the US Consulate that is close to where your parents live. For instance, in India, each consulate has a list of states that they serve. Depending on your state, you need to select the respective Consulate.
- Parents US Visa Interview Language – Mother tongue vs English: If your parents are not comfortable with English, you should choose their preferred mother tongue or native language. Most of the US embassies give you that option to choose the local language. For instance, in India, you can choose interview language such as your mother tongue like Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, etc. If you feel your parents are not fluent in English, it is better to choose native language rather than English, so that they are comfortable and communicate clearly when asked by Visa Officer.
- Scheduling US Visa Interview : The US Visa interview appointment booking is handled by www.ustraveldocs.com website in most of the countries. Depending on your country, click on the country and choose the relevant website. For instance, for India, it would be www.ustraveldocs.com/in.
- You need to create an account and follow the process in there. You will be asked to pay the fee online for booking appointment.
- If you cannot pay online, you can go to bank, pay it there and get code to use the same for booking appointment.
- You do not need two accounts, you can add your parents together as family in the same account and book visa interview appointment.
Prepare for US Visitor Visa(B2) Interview, Documents
You will need to prepare and carry all relevant documents for the US Visitor visa interview for your parents. You will need to send them invite letters, sponsorship letters and other info. Let’s look at each of them.
Funds Proof – Bank Account Balance Letter, Sample
If you are sponsoring your parents or in-laws trip, you need to send the relevant proof to show that there are enough funds in your bank. While you can print out the Bank statements online, it is recommend that you go to your Bank and get a Bank verification or Bank Balance Statement Letter signed and stamped by the Bank officer.
Go to the primary bank, where you have your longest standing account and the bank which has your savings and ask them to give you a Bank Verification letter for Visa. Depending on the bank, the process can vary. Typically, Chase does it instantly. For Bank of America or others they make take couple weeks or more. Do this in advance. All they do is, give a letter saying when the bank account was opened and average running balance since opening. It is just a simple letter. If possible, get the visiting card of the bank manager( not necessary, more documentation the better). Check out Sample Bank Verification Letter for Parents Visa
Invitation Letter, Visa Officer Cover Letter, Other Documents
Below are other set of documents that you will need to have ready for the visa interview, so that your parents or in-laws can show the same.
- Invitation Letter : You need to send an invitation letter to your parents saying that you are inviting them to visit you and sign it. It legally supports your parents intent to come to US and you are inviting them to visit. Download sample template copies below.
- Visa officer Cover letter: It is recommended to send a cover letter with all the documentation addressing the visa officer. It just lets you keep in track of what you are sending and if visa officer needs to check, it is easier for him and more clear for our parents. See templates section below.
- Copies of W2 Form, Pay stubs, etc : You will need copies of W2 Forms for all the years, last three pay stubs or salary statements, Last three bank statements, Copy of your passport, I-94, H1B visa approval ( I797). This is extra piece of documentation to be given to your parents to avoid any issues. This is like an optional, I strongly suggest that you carry these documents.
- F1 Student – Status Documents If you are a student on F1 visa and not working, you may not have pay stubs, so do not worry about it. Send whatever you have regarding your current status like I20, etc.
- ( Optional ) Affidavit of Support I-134 Form: This is an optional form, which is typically filed with family based green card applications by sponsors. This is to establish that the applicant will not become public charges while in the United States. If you submit this form, you are legally signing that you take all the liability and they will not become a public charge. You may fill, sign and send the affidavit of support to your parents. It has some basic info. Nothing fancy and tricky out there. All you are telling in this document is that you are going to support their entire trip. You can Download the I-134 Form, Affidavit of Support from USCIS website
- Sending Documents to Home Country : Ideally, you want to print out everything and sign all the documents where you filled forms I-134 (optional), invitation letter and cover letter. Make copies of all the documents as listed above. Send originals of Employment letter and Bank letter. You can use DHL or FedEx. It may cost you up to $60 USD.
Below is checklist of B2 visitor visa stamping for parents
Parents US Visitor Visa(B2) Documents Checklist
- Copy of work visa approval notice ( H1B, L1 – Form I-797).
- Copy of Passport, US Visa stamped on passport.
- Copy of I-94. ( Check How to get I-94 Online )
- Current Employment verification letter
- Copy of Bank statements from last 6 months.
- Bank Account verification/ balance letter.
- Copies of last three salary statements/ pay slips.
- Copies of previous years Tax Returns –W2 forms ( if applicable).
- DS forms (if you have filled it and signed the same)
- Copy of Green Card ( if you are not working on visa )
- Form I-134 ( Optional )
US Visitor Visa(B2) Documents Checklist for in-laws
If you are sponsoring for your in-laws like mother-in-law or father-in-law, in addition to above checklist of documents, you need to include spouse’s details and documents as well along with the package.
- Your Spouse’s Passport
- Spouse’s approval notice I797
- Spouse’s US Visa Copy
- Any other supporting documents like marriage certificate to prove the relationship.
- Spouse Birth Certificate
Thanks to Rajesh for suggesting the above after his bad experience missing the documents of in-laws.
Sample Document Templates for Parents US Visitor Visa
Below are some of the templates that you can use. Make sure you change the content to fit it for your situation.
- Parents US Visitor Visa Invite Letter Template : You need to send an invitation letter to your parents saying that you are inviting them and also specify, if you plan to pay for their expenses when in US. We have given a sample letter, but I recommend you edit it with your own flavour and make it unique : Invitation Letter Templates for Visitor (B-2) / Parents Visa
- Employment letter Sample Letter Template for US Parents Visa : You should also send an employment letter that tells that you are employed in your company with your designation and salary. It can be any standard employment letter. You may use : Employment letter Template for Parents Visa USA
- Cover Letter for Visa Officer at US Consulate: It is a good idea to put in a cover letter to the visa officer listing all the documents you are sending. You may use : Cover Letter for Visa officer – Parents visa USA
These are just standard templates that you can use, no hard fast rule that it has to be in this format. We highly encourage you to use them as guideline only and create your own letters with your own flavour, so that it looks unique.
Additional Supporting documents by Parents for Visa Interview
Fundamentally, your parents have to prove that they have enough ties in their home country, so that they would return after their trip. Some of the ways that can be done is by good supporting documentation. The below list of documents are intended to prove that they will return to home country:
- Notarized documents of land/ sites, buildings ( any kind of property).
- Bank Statements with enough balance
- Pension / employment benefits letters, if applicable.
- Fixed deposits, any financial related documents.
- If there are Tax returns, then carry them as well
- Any other documents that shows your financially strong and you will come back.
If you do not have all documents or big property back home, it is OK. No big deal. Because, you are the one in US, who is sponsoring the visitor visa for your parents. So, do not worry. Also, if your parents are older, then they are fine.
Attend US Visitor Visa Interview, Sample Questions
Having all documents is important, but the most important thing is to give your parents the confidence and all the details related to you and what you do in US so that they can answer the questions. You need to coach your parents to do well in the interview. You can expect to see questions like below for your parents in the visa interview
- Who lives in US ? Son or Daughter ?
- What does your Son or Daughter do in US ?
- Did they study in US ?
- Where did they study ?
- What does your son or daughter do for work ?
- Which city do they live in ?
- Do you plan to settle down there or come back ?
- What is the purpose of your visit ?
- When do yo plan to go ?
- When do you plan to return to India ?
- What is your son or daughter salary ?
- How long have your son or daughter lived in US ?
- Do you work or retired ?
- Do you get pension ? Have you paid taxes ?
Hopefully, your parents get their US Visa in the interview. One last thing is health insurance.
Health Insurance for Parents : After you get US Visa and plan to arrive in US, having visitors health insurance is important for parents to avoid any unforeseen health conditions, when in USA. It is always a good idea to get Health Insurance from a US vendor, who can support you. We recommend Buying Parents Insurance at Visitors Coverage – Parents Insurance as they have US support and you can compare all insurance plans.
That’s it folks…not so much complex, all you need to do is get all the list of documents and have things rolling as per plan and schedule.
Do you have any other ideas or documents that are important ? Do share your experience and thoughts.